Some outright rants from a bunch of infosec practitioners.

TAG | cloud




Today I had to give the pleasure to give a keynote at the SIGS DC Day on the need to evaluate Cloud Service Providers in a way that looks behind (or at least tries to) security whitepapers and certification reports. The slides can be found here.

I also particularly enjoyed the following two talks:

Sean O’Tool from Swisscom AG covered challenges of an infrastructure to cloud migration. Even though he only briefly touched the topic, I enjoyed his description of their firewalling model: Seeing that centralized firewall operation (or more precisely, rule design and approval) is limited/challenged by the understanding of the application, they transferred control over firewall rule sets (beyond a basic set of infrastructure/ground rules) to the application teams (using of features like OpenStack’s security groups, where he also talked about limitations of those). They compensated the loss of “centralized enforcement by a security group” with rule reviews — an approach that will become way more relevant (and necessary) in the future.

Marc Holitscher from Microsoft covered their “second line of defense”, which is a strong audit framework for controls they implement for their Azure/Office cloud environment. The relevant information (which was new for me too) was that they published a lot of audit information just recently. Details are described here.


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Cloud Security & Trust


I gave a presentation on Cloud Security, Compliance & Trust the other day. The basic message was to look beyond the Cloud buzzword and see the actual technologies which are used, understand which security principles still apply and which need to be re-thought, giving a rough direction about regulatory compliance in Cloud environments (which of course is non-binding, as I’m not a lawyer), and the importance of trust evaluations (especially) when it comes to Cloud services.


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Recently we started playing around with Cisco’s virtual router, the CSR 1000V, while doing some protocol analysis. We found Cisco offering an BIN file for download (alternatively there is an ISO file which contains a GRUB boot loader and the BIN file, or an OVA file which contains a virtual machine description and the ISO file) and file(1) identifies it as DOS executable:

$ file csr1000v-universalk9.03.12.00.S.154-2.S-std.SPA.bin 
csr1000v-universalk9.03.12.00.S.154-2.S-std.SPA.bin: DOS executable (COM)

We didn’t manage to get the file running, neither in a (Free-)DOS environment, nor in a wine virtual DOS environment, except using the boot loader from the ISO file. So we became curious as for the structure and ingredients of the file.


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Exploiting Hyper-V: How We Discovered MS13-092

During a recent research project we performed an in-depth security assessment of Microsoft’s virtualization technologies, including Hyper-V and Azure. While we already had experience in discovering security vulnerabilities in other virtual environments (e.g. here and here), this was our first research project on the Microsoft virtualization stack and we took care to use a structured evaluation strategy to cover all potential attack vectors.
Part of our research concentrated on the Hyper-V hypervisor itself and we discovered a critical vulnerability which can be exploited by an unprivileged virtual machine to crash the hypervisor and potentially compromise other virtual machines on the same physical host. This bug was recently patched, see MS13-092 and our corresponding post.

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State of Virtualization Security ‘14

First of all, I hope you all had a good start to 2014. Having some time off “between the years” (which is a German saying for the time between Christmas and NYE), I caught up on several virtualization security topics.

While virtualization is widely accepted as a sufficiently secure technology in many areas of IT operations (also for sensitive applications or exposed systems, like DMZs) by 2014, there are several recent vulnerabilities and incidents that are worth mentioning.

First of all, a rather old vulnerability (codename “VMDK Has Left the Building“) was eventually patched by VMware, the day before Christmas’ eve (honi soit qui mal y pense… 😉 ). While the initially described file inclusion vulnerability cannot be exploited anymore, first tests in our lab show that attempts to exploit the vulnerability lead to a complete freeze of the shared ESXi host. We still need to dig deeper into the patch and will keep you posted.

On November’s patch Tuesday, an important vulnerability in Hyper-V was patched by Microsoft. The bulletin does not provide a lot of details as for the vulnerability, but the relevant sentence is this one: “An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could execute arbitrary code as System in another virtual machine (VM) on the shared Hyper-V host.”. This does not allow code execution in the hypervisor. However, Hyper-V’s architecture comprises the so-called root partition, which is a privileged virtual machine used for all kinds of management functionality. This means that code execution in this particular virtual machine most probably will still give an attacker complete control over the hypervisor. Even without this root partition, the vulnerability would be one of the worst-case vulnerabilities in the age of Cloud computing, provided that MS Azure employs Hyper-V (which can be considered a fair assumption. Still we have no distinct knowledge here). Again, we’ll have a closer look at this one in the near future.

At the end of December, OpenSSL suffered from a virtualization-related incident. The shared hypervisor was compromised using a weak password of the hosting provider. While password-related attacks are not specific to virtualized environments, it emphasizes the need for secure management practices for virtualization components. This sounds like a very basic recommendation, but many security assessments we conducted in this space resulted in the need to include “attacks against management interfaces” in the top ERNW virtualization risks, which we cover in our virtualization and cloud security workshops. Also we mentioned this in some presentations and research results.

As the described events show, virtualization security will remain an important topic in 2014 (even though marketing material suggest to simply adopt virtualization – I won’t give any links here, you’ve probably already seen plenty 😉 ). We will cover several aspects during this year’s Troopers edition. While our workshop on “Exploiting Hypervisors” is already online (for the detailed description, see here), one talk is missing: Due to some rather strict NDAs, we can’t provide any details so far (but if you’ve read the MS13-092 credits carefully, it shouldn’t be too hard to guess 😉 ).


I hope you’re looking forward to 2014 as much as I do, stay tuned,


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3D-Printers in the Cloud

Dear readers,

with the rise of low-cost 3D-printers in the homes of thousands [1] of enthusiastic tinkerers the word spreads about these magical machines which can produce any mechanical, artsy, useful or useless parts you might come up with. Standing in living rooms worldwide, they don’t seem like a big threat [2] to anybody. But what happens if you connect them to the Internet?

3D-Printers at the TROOPERS12 & TROOPERS13 IT-Security Conference.

3D-printers at the TROOPERS12 & TROOPERS13 IT-Security Conference.

What’s it about? 3D-Printing in a Nutshell.


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The gritsforbreakfast blog post making the rounds on the Liberation Tech mailing list about security of Apple’s iMessaging service is gaining quite some attention. The post refers to a CNET article on how the iMessage service “stymied attempts by federal drug enforcement agents to eavesdrop” conversations due its end-to-end encryption and commends Apple for protecting the user’s privacy while pointing out that Gmail and Facebook Messaging don’t. However, I disagree on some points of the blog post and therefore want to discuss them here.


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Thoughts on Cloud Governance, Part 1

Last week Rapid7 posted an interesting analysis of the Amazon S3 storage system: Apparently roughly one out of six S3 buckets (a bucket is, simply said, a kind of folder) is accessible without any authentication mechanism. Accessing those files, the Rapid7 guys were able to download a wide range of data, also comprising confidential information such as source code or employee information, comparable to past research for other platforms (see also this presentation I gave on some of the biggest Cloud #Fails)

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BPDU Guard: Bringing Down Infrastructures

As you may already be familiar with some of our previous work which was mainly focused on isolation issues of hypervisors, we also want to present you an issue concerning availability in Cloud environments. This issue was already covered in some of our presentations, but will be explained in greater detail in this blog post.

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Insider Threats in the Cloud

at first a happy new year to all our readers!
And, of course, to everybody else, too ;-). May 2013 bring good things for you all, in particular (but not only) in the infosec space.

At the recent ATSAC 2012 conference a guy from the CERT Insider Threat Center gave a talk on the exact topic. Given that the ENISA Cloud Computing Risk Assessment lists “Cloud Provider Malicious Insider” as one of the top eight risks (out of overall 35 risks evaluated) and we just had some discussion about this in a customer environment, this might be of interest for some readers.

The slides of the talk can be found here.



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